By Mike Hill
IT’S disappointing but exciting at the same time, said Bundaberg president David Plummer.
He was commenting on the many changes that will impact on this month’s Bundaberg Cup (550m).
For Plummer and other regional club presidents, it’s a changing world as they cautiously plan for their upcoming Cup carnivals.
Racing Queensland late last month introduced designated race zones across the state in the wake of the growing COVID-19 crisis.
The new measures will confine all greyhound trainers to race in their own regions for the foreseeable future and follow earlier changes that include patron-free racing and a mandatory 14-day self-isolation period for any licensed participant coming into the state.
All this comes only weeks before the Bundaberg Cup (heats April 13, final April 20) – the first of the ‘Group 3’ regional features along with the G3 Rockhampton Cup and the G3 Townsville Cup.
The Rockhampton Cup is planned for June 3 and June 10 at this stage.
Despite the setbacks, Plummer said he was still excited about the upcoming Cup.
“Although it’s disappointing, it’s still very exciting,” he said.
“It’s exciting because with the zone restrictions we will have a ‘local’ winner. It means a locally-trained dog will win our first TAB Cup. And we know we are very lucky to be still racing.”
With a ban on ‘outside trainers’, Plummer said: “I would think that every Bundy zone trainer would want to give the Cup ago.”
“In saying that, I think we’ll be lucky to get four heats. We’ll probably only get three.
“We just have five runners in the only 550m (4th/5th Grade) race on Monday (March 30).”
Plummer said the Ricky Hassall-trained Elegant Eleanor looked the early Cup favourite.
“Without doubt, she looks the one to beat,” he said.
Elegant Eleanor, winner of the Country Cup (520m) at Albion Park in late January, is unbeaten in three starts on the Bundy grass, including a record-breaking run over 460m (25.99s) in mid-November.
That time was lowered a month later by George Clegg’s grand chaser Big Bad Bob (25.98s) before Peter O’Reilly’s talented sprinter Shakey Diesel sliced another .04s off that mark in February, reducing it to 25.94s.
Hassall’s superbly bred black bitch (Fabregas-Befitting) has an impressive record of 13 wins and three placings from 21 starts, including three sub 30s runs over 520m at Albion Park.
However, she has been disappointing in her last two efforts at the Brisbane track.
Plummer also said the club would stage a Cup Consolation event and that work to correct a problem with the Bundy 550m boxes had been completed.
“The boxes were fixed and signed off by stewards mid-month,” he said.
“I don’t foresee any more problems and although we are waiting for new boxes we won’t have them before the Cup series.”